Men’s College Basketball Should Borrow One Rule From The Women’s Game

Men’s college basketball, for the first time in awhile, adopted some sensible rules changes when it agreed to go to a 30 second shot clock, reduce timeouts, and expand the charge circle. Reasonable minds can disagree on the first, but the latter two are excellent changes to college basketball, and should help improve the flow and pace of play. Meanwhile, women’s college basketball adopted an extra rule that men’s should adopt immediately: four 10-minute quarters rather than two 20-minute halves.

The reasons why are numerous and simple.

1. Everyone else does it

This comes with a pair of caveats: first, I’m usually uncomfortable with the notion that something needs to happen just because that’s the way it’s done or because everyone else does it, but in this case having the NBA and FIBA all playing four quarters while the NCAA plays two halves is a bit nonsensical. The other caveat is that in some states high school basketball games are two halves, such as in my home state of North Dakota where our largest schools play two 16 minute halves. (our smaller schools play four quarters, which is another level of ridiculousness).

2. Fewer stoppages

Without having two long halves, there would be no need for TV timeouts every four minutes. There would still likely be one somewhere in the quarter, as well as at the end of a quarter, but the problem – to me at least – with the TV timeouts every four minutes is not the number of the stoppages but the effect they have on the game. Too often teams will be just starting to get into a flow and then Bam! TV timeout. Or they’ll play without a whistle for so long that there ends up being TV timeouts on back to back whistles. Sponsors obviously need to be satisfied — there would still be breaks, but they would be more spaced out and more in the flow of the game.

3. Fewer free throws

How many times, especially with the emphasis on restriction of the freedom of movement, did we see a team in the bonus with 13 minutes left in a half? And then, when refs (likely at the behest of conferences) realized how boring that was, they began allowing as much contact as before, and it stifled both pace and offense. Moving to four quarters would make it tougher for teams to get into the bonus in the first place, and once a team was in the penalty they’d be able to get out of it at the ensuing quarter break. The game would not slow down for fouls as much, and that would allow the referees to concentrate on allowing offenses to move more freely.

These reasons are 1. pretty obvious and 2. maybe more importantly non controversial. We know how averse to change both the NCAA and sport of basketball as a whole can be (see: the adjustment to the 3 point line), and while moving college basketball from two halves to four quarters seems like a big change, the only noticeable effects would work to everyone’s advantage.